Turns out, it might totally be your boss’s fault…
Being chronically late for work can be a somewhat baffling experience. You set your alarm on time, you lay your clothes out the night before and you’ve even stopped allowing yourself a sneaky watch of Everyone Loves Raymond, yet you always find yourself rushing through the office doors long after start time and praying no one notices. That timepiece you bought impulsively on a Black Friday watches deal really isn’t helping with your punctuality.
So what’s going on? Well apparently it’s all to do with power dynamics between you, your boss and their massive ego.
‘Power dynamics deeply influence time management,’ Julie Jarett Marcuse, Ph.D explains to Psychology Today.
‘As an example, I will describe a patient in my practice who came to see me because her lateness was putting a valued job in jeopardy. My patient experienced some aspects of employment as humiliating: She felt her boss enjoyed his power. She could not distinguish between his “right” to control her hours and his control over her as a person. It irked her that he might feel morally superior, and she worried that her inability to get to work on time confirmed this. Her protest took the form of chronic lateness.’
Julie goes onto explain that apparently having an overly controlling boss can make you release your anger in a more passive-aggressive way.
‘Lateness is part of a dialogue of push and pull. It passively expresses resentment about the expectations of others – and anger about submitting to external demands. My patient’s sense of entitlement magnified her anger. She wished to defy her boss and to come and go as she pleased. At the same time, since she craved his approval, her defiance was a source insecurity and stress. She also feared losing her job.’
So what’s the solution to all of this? Well it looks like stop seeing your boss as an annoying parent, and realise you’re an independent spirit regardless *snaps fingers*
‘Through our work together in therapy, my patient was able to see how she had reacted to her boss as if he were her unreasonable father. She came to understand that her lateness was a compromise between opposing forces within herself – her spirit of independence was at odds with her needs for approval. It was a communication that expressed resentment, but also tried to contain it by keeping the transgression small and indirect.’
Julie has an experiment for you too…
‘If lateness is an issue in your own life, try the following experiment: Select one day and come to every appointment five minutes early. Check out how this feels. Not only may you feel empowered, but a diffuse burden may feel lifted. As much as the chronically tardy may deny its significance, lateness usually has psychological meaning.
‘Being punctual can feel like a huge relief. Power struggles rarely accomplish their goals — and consume energy you could be placing better elsewhere.’
So next time you’re late, explain to your boss it’s because they’re way too controlling, but assure them that you’ve got it sorted because you’re totally cool and independent.
(Actually, maybe just have that convo in your head and try Julie’s experiment.)